Is this 40% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy a good deal? (1,000:1,400)

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American Express Membership Rewards is offering a new (possibly targeted?) 40% transfer bonus when transferring to Marriott Bonvoy. That’s not a terribly compelling bonus, but it may be attractive enough in some circumstances.

The Deal

  • Amex Membership Rewards is offering a 40% bonus to Marriott Bonvoy through 10/31/20

Key Terms

  • Minimum transfer is 1,000 Membership Rewards points.
  • Redeem for this exclusive offer from 12:00 a.m. MT on 9/1/2020 to 11:59 p.m. MT on 10/31/2020, to receive 40% additional Marriott Bonvoy bonus points.
  • Please allow up to eight weeks for the additional Marriott Bonvoy bonus points to be awarded.
  • Marriott Bonvoy bonus points do not count towards elite tier qualification.

Analysis

I’ve gotten good value out of my Marriott points over the past couple of years, often eclipsing 1c per point on the redemption side. If you’ve gotten the same type of return, this bonus may look intriguing.

However, keep in mind that Marriott has offered points for sale for around 0.8c per point a couple of times this year. Assuming you could buy points at that rate, getting this 40% transfer bonus is like getting around 1.12c per point regardless of how you redeem the points since your alternative is to buy points in a sale. That’s not great value for Membership Rewards points, but neither is it terrible if you’ve earned most of your points at greater than 1x.

Of course, if you need the points for a high-value redemption right now, the sale rate at which you could possibly buy points at some moment in the future may not be relevant. Furthermore, Marriott caps how many points you can buy / transfer between accounts. This bonus may then be valuable to you.

One of my first thoughts on this bonus was whether or not it makes travel packages interesting. Greg had previously asked whether Marriott travel packages in a Peak world are a good value?. The short story is that travel packages can be a decent enough value in some circumstances, particularly when used during peak pricing periods. Given the current state of travel and the restrictive nature of certificates, I definitely wouldn’t transfer points for this purpose right now.

However, for the sake of argument, here are travel package prices:

Let’s say that you wanted a Category 5 travel package. Since that requires 390,000 Marriott points, you would need to transfer 279,000 Membership Rewards points.

Let’s assume that you choose a Marriott transfer partner to which you could have otherwise transferred your Amex points 1:1. The 7-night Marriott certificate will have then cost you a net 179,000 points.

Category 5 Marriott standard pricing is 35K points per night or peak pricing is 40K points per night. Given the 5th night free on award stays, your 7-night stay would ordinarily cost between 210,000 and 240,000 Marriott points assuming standard or peak pricing. At either end of that spectrum, you would have been better off skipping the travel package and just transferring to the airline from Amex because with the transfer bonus:

  • 150K Amex points = 210,000 Marriott points
  • 172K Amex points = 240,800 Marriott points

As you can see, you would be better off just transferring Amex points to Marriott to book your 7-night stay (and having much greater flexibility than with a certificate). If any of your nights were off-peak, the math would look even worse.

While the math gets a little closer in other categories, it still isn’t a better deal than doing it yourself.

The only circumstance in which I think the travel packages might make sense with this transfer bonus is if you want to transfer to an airline that isn’t an Amex partner. For example, if you want to ultimately have Turkish Miles & Smiles miles, you couldn’t otherwise do that through Amex. Still, wouldn’t be getting a 1:1 transfer ratio from Membership Rewards points given that, as shown above, you can get the 7-night hotel stay without the travel package for fewer net points.

If you’re traveling during peak dates, you may get close to 1:1 value. For instance, a top-tier Category 8 property during peak pricing would ordinarily cost 600,000 Marriott points for 7 nights. You could therefore transfer:

  • 429K Membership Rewards points x 1.4 = 600,600 Marriott points

Alternatively, a Category 8 travel package including 100K miles and a 7-night stay certificate costs 750K Marriott points. That would require a transfer like this:

  • 536,000 Membership Rewards points x 1.4 = 750,400 Marriott points

In that case, the 100K miles that come with the travel package would have cost an additional 107K net Membership Rewards points — nearly a 1:1 transfer.

You could do just a little bit better than 1:1 if United is your chosen airline though since travel packages with United miles get a 10% mileage boost. In other words, for your net 107K Membership Rewards points, you’d receive 110K Ultimate Rewards points.

However, that assumes that you want to turn your transferable points into a restrictive 7-night certificate and airline miles with a specific airline, which isn’t really advisable in the current climate. Therefore, I wouldn’t do it nor recommend it – I just thought it was interesting to consider.

Overall, this transfer bonus may be useful for some but isn’t incredibly exciting. It’s worth keeping in mind but certainly not worth a speculative transfer.

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